THE THING IS
Hollywood has a new outlet for live theater. The Basement at Mack Sennett Studios will inaugurate its new space with the premiere of Salome, “a radically queer reinvention” of the 1891 play by Oscar Wilde, newly adapted by CHRISTOPHER ADAMS-COHEN, directed by Patrick Kennelly. Adams-Cohen recalls the process.
“I was intensely studying Oscar Wilde’s play Salome while I was still an undergrad at UCLA. I was really drawn to this character, but there was something off about it. What began creeping into my brain was that [Salome] wasn’t a woman at all. He is the gay man’s fantasy of the ultimate femme fatale. That was my jumping off point. I am very spiritually connected to this play. My work is not so much an adaptation as it is a dialogue with Oscar Wilde’s text. But it is also very much its own story. I have been developing the text for two years and I have been slowly building the team around it as I’ve progressed. It is a little bit in your face. It is very sexual… all about power, and it takes you to some very dark places. It has been a process of declaring a really fearless theme. The play has a six-member ensemble—four men and two women. I am proud that we are going to be the first stage production at The Basement, which is a really stunning, gorgeous space… full of ghosts. We have been transforming it into a proper theater. We’re putting in a full grid. The set includes a bathtub that will have running water. The seating is intimate, around 79 [seats]. It will be very environmental. The audience will be sitting right in the middle of the set, with the actors. We begin previews on January 30 and we open February 5.”
IN THE NEWS
- Jack Stehlin’s The New American Theatre and physical theater guru John Farmanesh-Bocca are joining forces to once again restructure the Bard, offering Tempest Redux, adapted, directed, and choreographed by Farmanesh-Bocca, starring Stehlin as Prospero. Opens Feb 20 at Odyssey Theatre in West LA. Previous collaborations include Pericles Redux and Titus Redux, both produced at Kirk Douglas Theatre.
- The Wallis in Beverly Hills will host the US premiere of three-time Emmy-winner Debbie Allen’s Freeze Frame, a multi-discipline exploration of gun violence in America, with original music by Stevie Wonder, James Ingram, Ricky Minor, Arturo Sandoval, and Thump. Runs Feb 5-7.
- Greenway Court Theatre is premiering Swarm Cell, set within “a futuristic brave new world of womanhood and Identity,” written by Gabriel Rivas Gomez, with contributions from its host, LA’s Fairfax High School. Directed by Robert Castro, the work is inspired by John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Opens Jan 30.
- In conjunction with Black History Month, Chromolume Theatre presents the debut of Prez, Willard Manus’ chronicle of the life and music of jazz saxophone legend Lester Young, played by actor/musician Leslie A. Jones. Directed by Daniel Keough. Opens Feb 5 at Chromolume Theatre at The Attic on Washington Blvd.
- NoHo Arts Center Artistic Director James Mellon’s solo play, SissyBoy—Mellon’s journey from Catholic schoolboy to Chippendale stripper to Broadway dancer to cancer survivor and beyond—premieres Feb 12, staged by Producing Director Kevin Bailey.
- Circle X Theatre Co. has announced the premiere of Death Play, scripted and performed by Lisa Dring. Directed by Jessica Hanna, this solo work, “a story about the great magic and total crap of dying,” explores the void that is faced by the loss of those we love. Opens Mar 19 at Atwater Village Theatre.
- Write Act Repertory debuts Pillars of New York, a contemporary musical chronicling the struggles of four couples dealing with life in and around the events of the 9-11 tragedy. Written by Michael Antin, the production is helmed by John Blanchette, with musical direction by Rob Bowers. Opens Jan 23 at Write Act Rep @ The Brickhouse Theatre in NoHo.
- Having made its debut at Hollywood Fringe Fest 2014, Emmy-nominated TV writer David Castro’s solo play, Man’s Dominion—starring Tim Powell as multiple characters and directed by John Coppola (original direction by Dennis Neal)—will have a six-week run at Studio C Artists at Hollywood’s Theatre Row. Based on the true tale of the 1916 lynching of Sparks Family Shows star attraction Mary the Elephant by the townsfolk of Erwin, Tennessee. Opens Jan 23.
- Palmer Davis brings her much-traveled one-woman play, Suburban Showgirl, to Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, staged by Cate Caplin. Performs Jan 22 in conjunction with Whitefire’s SoloFest 2016, featuring 41 shows in 45 days.
- Sally Shore’s New Short Fiction Series continues its 20th season on Feb 14 with Santa Anita and other stories by NEA Fellow Sean Bernard, at The Federal Bar in NoHo. With Shore, Matt Ferrucci and Jim Hanks.
- 24th Street Theatre is bringing back its highly acclaimed 2015 U.S. premiere production of Finegan Kruckemeyer’s Man Covets Bird, starring Andrew Huber and Leeav Sofer, directed by 24th Street Artistic Director Debbie Devine. Presented by LAb24, 24th Street Theatre’s resident experimental theater. Opens Valentine’s Day, Feb 14.
Julio Martinez-hosted Arts in Review—celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the Greater Los Angeles area—airs Fridays (2-2:30pm) on KPFK (90.7FM).